Johnstone History Museum
Johnstone History Society • Scotland
JHM Web Log
We welcome news of Johnstone, photos of Old Johnstone, stories of former and continuing businesses and even professional articles on regional history. Use our contact form to send story and content ideas.
Johnstone History Museum 2023 Calendar SOLD OUT
Johnstone History Museum 2023 Calendar SOLD OUT
Thanks to all who purchased our 2023 Calendar.
The Story of the Glasgow to Ardrossan Canal that only reached Johnstone
Ardrossan Canal and Railway By the late E.S.Nicoll, edited and contributed to Johnstone History Museum by Stuart Rankin. On October 2, 1903, the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald contained a paper on the above subject, read at Ardrossan by Clement F. Stretton of the Society of Engineers. Follow the link to the full story

The Canal

Museum Reaches Major Milestone
Johnstone History Museum Celebrates its 50,000th Visitor

Johnstone History Museum, which is located within the Morrisons store in Johnstone achieved a huge milestone the other day when it welcomed its 50,000th visitor through the door.

Tassum Shafiq, from Bridge of Weir, was welcomed by two of the Museum volunteers, Helen Bowie and Marlene Rogan. At an event organised to celebrate the occasion, Tassum was presented with a traditional Scottish Quaich and a commemorative Certificate by the Chairman of the Johnstone History Society, Iain Murray.

Iain reported that he was delighted to see the Museum achieve such an important milestone and thanked the whole team of volunteers who keep the whole show running. The Community Museum opened its doors in April, 2008, the year after the Morrisons store itself opened. Visitors come in from all over the world but it is also great to welcome locals who discover a lot about their own town for the first time. The Museum also hosts school groups and local interest groups for organised visits by arrangement.

When asked how it all came about, Iain stated that, “when the Supermarket was being planned, discussions were held between the Council planning department, Morrisons’ Directors and members of Johnstone History Society, about the possibility of incorporating a purpose built Community Museum within the store. With financial help from the Heritage Lottery Fund the present facility came to pass.

“Johnstone History Society, owes a huge debt of thanks to the late Councillor John Kenny, the late Adam Lynch and his wife Janette who put in a huge amount of work to help create the Museum that we see in place today. The present team carry on the work they created”.

The Museum contains a huge amount of information, photographs, historic documents, maps, memorabilia and industrial artefacts that chart the history of the town from February, 1782, when George Houstoun, the Laird of Johnstone planned the Town, to the present day.
WW1 Roll of Honour List Update
We have recently updated our World War 1 Role of Honour list that you will find under the Categories section of our Web Log list. Should you so wish, we can now add your information to the names. If you wish to add information please use the contact form to submit information you wish to include.

Read the article

Johnstone Machine Tools reached Chile
Recently we received an enquiry from Chile about a Machine Tool made in Johnstone by Thomas Shanks & Sons. The enquiry to our web site was from a man in Chile who communicated in Spanish. Luckily our web sponsor, Rees Clark, is fluent in Spanish, so was able to communicate with our contact. More of the story to follow once Rees fills in this section of the story.

For more Thomas Shanks Machine Tools go to Thomas Shanks

Thomas Shanks

Johnstone Machine Tools used in Australia
Cockatoo Island Dockyard in Sydney. Large Thomas Shanks machines. Photographs courtesy of Mori Flapan of Sydney Australia.

For more Thomas Shanks Machine Tools at Cockatoo click on link Thomas Shanks

The Cockatoo Island Dockyard was a major dockyard in Sydney, Australia, based on Cockatoo Island. The Dockyard was established in 1857to maintain Royal Navy warships. It later built and repaired military and battle ships, and played a key role in sustaining the Royal Australian Navy. The Dockyard was closed in 1991, and its remnants are heritage listed as the Cockatoo Island Industrial Conservation Area. Credit Wikipedia.

Thomas Shanks

Johnstone Machine Tool from Loundons reached Russia
Recently we have been amazed to find evidence of how Johnstone Machine Tools reached right round the world.

This first story starts when John McFarlane, a visitor to the Museum, told us about his father's uncle, Tom McFarlane, who had worked in Loudon Bros Machine Tool Company in Johnstone. He added that Tom had not only worked in Loudon's but had been in charge of a small team who travelled to Russia to install a huge planing machine in a Russian Machine shop. John subsequently brought us in a photograph of this event. The Machine was a Planing Machine and one of the largest machine tools made by Loudons.



Johnstone Band - Black Cart Water
Johnstone Band had a piece of music specially commissioned to perform at the recent Kapitol Cory Online Brass Band Championships. The piece, Black Cart Water by Nicholas Olsen, celebrates Johnstone’s industrial past with the thread and cotton mills that were powered by the Black Cart Water. We hope you enjoy our performance.

Thanks to Mark Good for his work on the video, to Ryan Bradley for the audio, to Kukscinema Scotland for drone footage and to Iain Murray of Johnstone History Museum for his assistance.

Recommendation: Expand video to full screen.


Great Drone video of Johnstone by Kukscinema Scotland
Kukscinema Scotland has produced a memorable flyover video of Johnstone. We recommend expanding the view to full screen.

View at Facebook.

Kali (MacLaurin) Lindner's hunt for her Roots
Kali has now supplied a great photograph of the McLaurin family at Cartside House. Thought I would share.


Kali (MacLaurin) Lindner's hunt for her Roots
Kali Lindner and her family from Montana in the USA, recently visited the Museum, seeking information about her ancestors, the McLaurin family, of Smith & McLaurin fame. They also wished to find anything they could about Cartside House, the McLaurin's family home.

We were able to find information about the McLaurins who lived in the Mansion over the years. Cartside House was sited on the land across the road from the present Smith & McLairin Company Premises.

Follow the link below to read the story of the history of Cartside House.

Cartside House

Johnstone - The “Cap of Liberty” and the “Radical Rising” by Angela Gillespie
The end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 brought economic depression and social unrest. In 1816 some 40,000 people attending a meeting in Glasgow Green to demand more representative government and an end to the Corn Laws which kept food prices high. The Industrial Revolution had affected hand-loom weavers who saw their wages slashed. Artisan workers sought action to reform what they saw as an uncaring government leading to demonstrations and protest. As industrial distress deepened, the demand for reform grew more insistent but the government only replied by measures of suppression. The French Revolution had produced a profound effect on political thought throughout the country - “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” was an explosive slogan - with an appeal that carried across frontiers. It was hope to the underprivileged and oppressed but terror to those in power.

Read the whole story about how this "Radical Rising" affected Johnstone in Angela Gillespie's latest story.

The Story

The Brig O' Johnstone: a research article by Angela Gillespie
As is well known the Brig O’ Johnstone is shown on Blaeu’s map of the County of Renfrew, published in Amsterdam in 1654, the name being shown as “Ihonstoun,” this map surveyed by Timothy Pont about 1590.

Angela Gillespie has studied the events of the time. Follow the link for the exciting details.

The exciting details

Website Damaged in Cyber-attack
Our website was damaged in an attack on our webhost's publishing system on Sunday July 19. Restoration work is in progress.

The principal impact was in the loss of certain control features and numerous graphics. Restoration from backup files is proceeding. Positions of graphics are indicated by the admittedly unattractive temporary images.